Aren't all the mystical experiences of spiritual persons essentially the same, regardless of the culture or religious context in which they occur?

It is fashionable to posit a mystical connection among all men and women of faith, regardless of the religion. To me this is to concentrate excessively on the external, rather than on the internal; on appearance, rather than on content.

The various religions of the world are drastically different. Most similarities are superficial, and the experts tend to agree that the differences outweigh any similarities. Of course there are connections, and C. S. Lewis is one Christian intellectual who grappled seriously with the underlying questions, the great issues of life that the various religions of men aim to grapple with.

Some esoteric and mystically minded persons would rather we not ask the content questions. To try to gain specific knowledge about faith, God, or a religion is to destroy it, they claim. And to some extent this is doubtless true, given the inadequacy of language and the complexities of the various systems of thought. But we need not drift endlessly on a sea of relativity, need we?

Of course no one can fathom God and his ways. Both Old and New Testaments affirm this. (See, for example, the end of Romans 11.) Yet here an important distinction must be made: that between adequate knowledge and comprehensive knowledge.

No one can know God fully, just as no one can pour an ocean into a thimble. But that doesn't mean we can't have accurate knowledge about the ocean--that is, about those aspects we have studied. Yes, it may be subject to revision in the light of further discoveries, but that provision hardly invalidates the sciences of oceanography and marine biology!

In the Bible we come to know about God, and we come to know God. Not everything, but the key things we need to know. This is not the mystical union with the divine of the eastern religions. It is a knowledge of God only because he has chosen to reveal himself to us.

Recommend reading: J. I. Packer, Knowing God. Also his Thy Word is Truth. One more title you might benefit from his James Sire's The Universe Next Door: A Worldview Catalog.

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